Recorded: 14 May 2004
Way back in 1988 when we found out we could determine what these mutational spectra were and this one simple gene disease, we really laid the foundation there for looking for diseased alleles in much more complicated genetic systems in the human. So in that sense the whole human genome sequencing project was a departure from that mission—the mission to find more human disease genes. We went away for twelve years or thirteen years and sequenced the human genome, now with that data and those techniques, we now have the tools to go and discover what is really underlying some of these genetically more subtle but profound human diseases.
The grail here is to discover what precise genetic changes will predispose you to schizophrenia, manic-depressive illness, hypertension, lung disease, cancer. This is really what we’ve got in front of us now.
Richard A. Gibbs is currently the Director of the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) and the Wofford Cain Professor in the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics. He received a B.Sc. (Hons) in 1979 and a Ph.D. in Genetics and Radiation Biology in 1985 at the University of Melbourne in Australia. In 1990 he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine, studying the molecular basis of human X-linked diseases and developing technologies for rapid genetic analysis. He developed several fundamental technologies for nucleic acid analysis. In 1991, he joined the BCM faculty and played a key role in the early planning and development phases of the Human Genome Project. In 1996, he established the BCM Human Genome Sequencing Center when Baylor was chosen as one of six programs to complete the final phase of the Human Genome Project. Dr. Gibbs has also made significant contributions to the deciphering of the fly, mouse, dictyostelium, and rat genomes. Among the numerous awards and honors received by Dr. Gibbs, he was awarded the Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., Excellence in Research Award in 2000.